W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso

No. 1.—–, spider from Te Ongaonga. Description

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No. 1.—–, spider from Te Ongaonga.

Adult female, length 10 lines, exclusive of falces.

Cephalothorax broad-oval, truncate at each end, posterior extremity much the broader, finely and velvety hairy; upper part of shield smooth; [171] thoracic portion rather flat; head slightly rounded above, with a few erect black bristles about the eyes; very hairy on lateral edges, and a slight line of hairs running down the indentation and increasing at the base; colour, rich umber-brown, with three longitudinal lines of light yellow-brown, one narrow down the back central, and two broader down the sides, all with irregularly crenated margins; lateral edges of shield below the line of a lighter brown.

Eyes, 8, unequal in size, in two rows (their position slightly resembling those of the genus Philodromus), 4 anterior in a line in front, and 4 posterior in a curved line above, with the convexity towards face, and the largest at the four corners.

Legs, strong, hairy; colour brownish, but lighter than the shield, with scattered black bristles above running somewhat in lines, none below; metatarsus and tarsus clothed with blackish hairs; relative length of legs 4 1 2 3, the fourth pair 13 lines long; sternum small, almost circular or deltoid-cordate, a little broader in front than behind, convex, very hairy, colour dark brown.

Palpi stout and strong, 4½ lines long, very hairy, increasing in hairiness forward; radial and digital joints densely clothed with black hairs; falces strong, prominent, black, and shining, with black and brown hairs about their bases; maxillæ large, hairy.

Abdomen about equal length with cephalothorax, oval, slightly convex above, and a little higher than cephalothorax; colour brown, same as legs but darker, and still darker below; very finely and densely hairy; three longitudinal yellow-brown stripes (in continuation of those on cephalothorax) running half-way towards posterior end and vanishing, and two lines of distant sunken black dots, 3–4 in a line, running downwards.

I think the old females change their colour, losing their light yellow-brown stripes, and becoming nearly wholly brown.

No. 2,—–, spider from Napier.

This species I have found here in my garden on several occasions, and always in a similar situation—viz., in a hole in the earth below the surface. In plunging a large flower-pot (of hyacinths, &c., after flowering) into the earth up to its rim, and leaving it there till the following early spring, I am pretty sure of finding one of these spiders in a large hole or burrow underground by the side of the pot. The hole is oval, and as large as a pigeon’s egg, about 3–4 inches under the surface, and dark, without any apparent outlet (though such may exist), and devoid of a vestige of web within and without. When taken out and exposed to the light this spider feigns death, and quietly allows itself to be taken up and removed. I have only found them solitary, and (as in the former case) have not yet met with a male. [172]


Adult female, length 11½ lines, exclusive of falces.

Cephalothorax broad oval, truncate at both ends, posterior extremity much broader; 5½ lines long, and 4 lines wide at the widest part; thoracic portion raised, convex, bare of hairs on top; head slightly rounded above; clypeus very truncate; largely hairy around eyes and face; three slight thoracic segmental markings running down each side; indentation sunk, smooth; colour rich dark red-brown, with light-brown and greyish coarse hairs, and a narrow light-coloured continuous stripe along the lateral and posterior borders of shield, with the hairs immediately above it of a shade of darker brown.

Eyes, 8, unequal in size, in two rows, (their position, etc., resembling those of the genus Tegennaria,) 4 anterior, smaller and equal in size, 4 posterior, the two central ones large, but the two corner ones largest, and more prominent and laterally inclined.

Palpi moderately stout, 4 lines long, hairy, with a single large black spine at end of the radial joint; falces prominent, black, shining, and (with maxillœ) bearing long shaggy hairs.

Legs medium stout, colour rich dark red-brown, hairy with black hairs, increasing in hairiness towards the tips, and having a few scattered black spines, and two black hooks at the tips; coxæ very large, smooth and shining in the gibbous parts; femora stout and but slightly hairy; two longitudinal rows of strong black spines on tibia and metatarsus below; the joints white, with small black spines; relative length of legs, 4 1 2 3; the fourth pair 14 lines long; sternum red-brown, medium size, broad oval, almost flat, slightly hairy, hairs adpressed.

Abdomen, 6 lines long, 4 lines wide, broad oval, hairy, convex above and higher than cephalothorax, the ground of a brownish colour, mottled or irrorated throughout, and very finely dotted with light yellow-brown; two lines of light-brown circular spots equidistant, and five spots in each line, running down towards posterior end; spiracles large central, close under base of sternum; spinners produced, long.

As I found it impossible to describe wholly and minutely the falces, palpi, and buccal organs of these spiders, without breaking up my specimens and gumming their parts severally down, I forbore to do so, preferring to leave those parts partly undescribed for the time, and so send my perfect and best specimens to England.

No. 3. Macrothele huttonii, Cambridge.

This large spider is also from my garden, and is one of those I mentioned as having been described by the Rev. O.P. Cambridge; and I merely bring it before you to exhibit it, and to say a few words respecting its habits and economy; which, I believe, were unknown to its describer.808 [173]

This fine spider is by no means uncommon with me; its habitat is often inside an unused and empty inverted earthen flower-pot; if such has been standing in the garden untouched for a year or so, one is pretty certain to be found within it, quietly and snugly ensconced in the midst, or beneath a very large web, spun thickly across the pot in all directions, yet leaving a large and somewhat tortuous passage for the spider; the web itself is of a bluish cast. In the pot are also sure to be found the elytra of pretty large Coleopterous insects, which, no doubt, enter through the hole in the inverted bottom of the flower-pot. Another fine resort for these spiders is under the large wooden cover of my concrete underground water-tank; this cover is scarcely ever removed oftener than once in two years, and there, beneath it, they are to be found, sometimes three or five, but always dwelling apart, in darkness, and concealed in their large extensive bluish webs. This spider also feigns death on its being captured. I have only hitherto detected one male, which, as the Rev. O.P. Cambridge states (and as is generally the case), is smaller than the female.

In one of those specimens of this spider now exhibited (all being females) you will notice that it had formerly lost a leg, which is being supplied by a new (and, at present, a smaller) one. Some of the female specimens of this spider that I have taken, are considerably larger than those described by the Rev. O.P. Cambridge; in all other respects, however, they agree with his scientific description.


A few days after the reading of my paper on some New Zealand Arachnids (the same having been noticed in one of our local papers), I received by train a small tin box from a friend in the country, 60 miles distant south, “containing,” as he said, “two fine living specimens of my big spider” (Macrothele huttonii). On opening the box there was but one of them alive, the other not only being dead but completely dismembered!—every leg torn off at the coxal joint, and the cephalothorax separated from the abdomen. These two spiders were both females, and were of a very large size; the living one was the largest specimen I had ever seen, and was wholly uninjured and very lively. There was nothing put into the little tin box with them, neither moss nor paper. That they would fight and kill, cooped up as they were in such a narrow space, was certain, but that the victor should proceed to such extreme lengths as to tear the conquered one into pieces was new, at least to me. And as this incident seemed an addition to our knowledge of the animal’s habits and economy, I have added it.


1882 A description of four new Ferns from our New Zealand Forests. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 15: 304-310.

[Read before the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute, 12th June, 1882.]

I. Cyathea, Smith.

Cyathea tricolor,809 sp. nov.

Plant, arborescent; trunk stout, 5–12 feet high, bulky at base and at top, 1 foot diameter there, fibrous at base and for 2–3 feet up, thickly clothed with broken stipites at top; colour, light-brown.

Fronds numerous, 30–40, tri-pinnate, spreading, drooping, glabrous, shining, 7–8 feet long, 38–40 inches broad in widest part, oblong-lanceolate not acuminate, decreasing very gradually downwards, sub-membranaceous, dark-green above, white below.

Stipes very stout, 3–3½ inches girth at base, short, 3–4 inches long, obscurely triquetrous, flattish or a little rounded at top, and slightly channelled towards base, brittle, succulent, gummy, dark-olive green above, peculiar bluish-white below, prickly with small fine sharp black prickles,  inch long, recurved, scattered, in some places very closely set, 2 to a line, and sometimes running in irregular rows; scales, at base of stipes, very numerous, long, shining, dark-brown, 2 inches long, and 2 lines broad at base, flat, thin, very acuminate, finely striated longitudinally, margins entire, crumpled towards top, concave and transversely corrugated at base.

Rhachis, main and secondary, glabrous, bright golden-yellow above, finely and floccosely tomentose below with deciduous ferruginous tomentum, bluish-white underneath, subcylindrical not channelled below, (but channelled above in dried specimens), main rhachis (and stipe) marked longitudinally on both upper outer edges with a line of oblong-lanceolate brick-red scars, and having 2–3 of such, red blotches at the base of each pinna, always nearer to the upper angle.

Pinnœ, distant (4–5 inches) on rhachis, alternate sometimes opposite, lowest two pairs opposite, the largest near the middle 18–19 inches long, 8–9 inches broad, drooping. [305]

Pinnules (secondary divisions), sessile 3½–4½ inches long, 10–12 lines broad, broadest at base, triangular, finely and very beautifully acuminate, apices finely and regularly serrated to tip.

Segments, sessile, 5–6 lines long, 1 line broad, linear, entire, margins conniving in fruit and subcrenulate at sori, pointed, distant, falcate, lower pinnate and pectinate, the single lowest segment on the underside of pinna subpetiolate; veins red, 9–10 jugate on a segment, simple, forked, and branching.

Sori, in axil of fork of veins, nearer midrib than margin, numerous, crowded filling segments, large, regular, biseriate, 14–18 on a large segment, dark-brown, extending to tips of pinnules and pinnæ, with always one close set in at base of segment to rhachis of pinnule.

Involucre, a shallow circular cup, margin entire, rarely breaking-up.

Receptacle, broadly clavate, pubescent; showing point of insertion by a pit on upper side of segment.

In both its young and barren state this species of Cyathea might be easily confounded at first sight with the well-known and ubiquitous New Zealand species C. dealbata, from its being equally as white on its foliage below. On examination and comparison however, of living specimens, the two whites on the under foliage of the two plants will be found to differ greatly,—that of this one possessing a bluish tint, (just the hue of the oxidized corrugated iron roofing of our houses,) which colour is more particularly shown on its thick and succulent stipes, which are also thickly set with small sharp black prickles. Indeed, in its young and barren state, the whiteness of the underside of the fronds of this species, often shows even more conspicuously than that of C. dealbata, when a frond is turned up or half-reversed in its native woods; owing to the much greater contrast arising from the darker-green of its upper foliage.

In its many colours, too, this fern is peculiar:—1. its shining darkgreen upper foliage; 2. its large, thick, glossy golden-yellow prominent stalks (rhachises, main and secondary); 3. its white underneath, appearing so solid, unbroken, through its being so glabrous there also, and not having there any large coloured scales or hairs; and 4. (when in fruit) its shining dark-brown clusters of large sori, showing to advantage on their white ground. Indeed, I might truly enough have specifically named it versicolor.

Another striking peculiarity of this species when in fruit, is its general and regular drooping appearance, and that, not merely of its large fronds inclining forwards and downwards, as obtains with some other of its congeners (as C. medullaris and C. polyneuron), but its characteristic threefold, or even fourfold, manner of drooping:—firstly, its fronds outwards and [306] downwards; secondly, their pinnæ downwards and inwards towards the main rhachis; thirdly the pinnules downwards and inwards towards the secondary rhachises; and then, fourthly, the very fruiting segments themselves conniving inwardly:810—the whole tout-ensemble being peculiar among our tree-ferns, and most graceful.

Owing to its many colours, its drooping compact shape, and its being much more of a dwarf (though stout) tree-fern than its congeners, fully bearing fruit when only five feet high, it wears a very peculiar and striking appearance (especially when looking down on it from a height a little above)—one that attracts the eye immediately.

I have long known this fern in its young and barren state; and I had always a suspicion that it was really distinct from C. dealbata; but Dr. Sir J. Hooker had so clearly stated that C. dealbata was our only tree-fern bearing “fronds” that were “white and glaucous below,” that I confess I have been for a considerable time thrown off my guard with respect to it. But during this last autumn, while botanizing in another and unvisited part of the Seventy-mile Bush, I fell in with several plants of this species, of various sizes and ages, and many of them bearing fruit in profusion, so I had ample means and opportunity for examination.

Hab. Deep forests (Seventy-mile Bush) on eastern outlying spurs of the Ruahine Mountain Range, between Norsewood and Danneverke villages; April, 1882.

II. Dicksonia, L’Héritier.

Dicksonia gracilis,811 n. sp.

Plant, arborescent; trunk 10–15 feet high, slender, greyish-brown; on upper portion remains of old stipites, and at top a few dead fronds hanging down; bearing young plants and shoots 2–3 feet from the base.

Fronds, 40 and upwards, sub-membranaceous, glabrous, 5–5½ feet long, 2–4 feet wide, tripinnate, oblong-lanceolate, patent, light-green above and lighter-green below, upper portion very free and loose not compact.

Stipes, 9–10 inches long, at first upright and inclined inwards towards trunk, sub-clasping, with a large quantity of loose light red-brownish hairs at bases, and a dense layer of lighter coloured hirsute tomentum adhering beneath; hairs, 1½ inch long, cylindrical, tapering, excessively fine towards top, straight and lax, shining as if varnished, regularly jointed, 6 joints to 1 line, semi-bulbous at base; stipes and rhachises dark-brown below, shining as if varnished, and thickly muricated throughout to apices of pinnæ with [307] fine raised black points; main rhachis deflexed from stipe, longitudinally sulcated above; stipes and rhachis densely hairy when young; hairs, patent, red-brown.

Pinnæ, 15 inches long, 4–5 inches broad, about 3 inches apart on rhachis, petiolate, triangular, broadest near base, acuminate ending in a very fine point, densely covered with red-brown strigose hairs above on rhachis of pinnæ.

Pinnules, sub-opposite, distant, 2–2½ inches long, broad, linear-oblong, broadest near base, acute, sub-falcate, petiolate, glabrous above on midrib, hairy below and also on midrib of segments; barren pinnules pinnatifid, fertile pinnate.

Segments free not crowded, sessile, alternate, oblong, 3 lines long, 1 line broad, obtuse, apices rounded, slightly and sparingly serrate, sub-falcate, lowermost one on upper side of pinnule regularly overlapping secondary rhachis; fruitful segments very distant, regularly crenulate through contraction by sori, auricled, lowest pair petiolate; costa prominent above; veins, 5-jugate, forked and simple.

Sori numerous, crowded, occupying the whole of the segment, small, globular, biseriate, 8–10 to a segment.

Involucre, outer valve sub-cucullate, margin entire, about ½ line long, remaining green-coloured when dry.

The buds, shoots, and young plants of various ages and sizes, bursting forth from the stem of this fern-tree, was a curious and pleasing sight—and, to me, a novelty. They were scattered around the main stem, 8–12 inches apart, and at different heights, but all within 2–3 feet from the base; from them I gathered fronds of various sizes, the largest 12 inches long,—one, 7 inches, and one, 4 inches long, exclusive of stipe; these are all very soft in foliage, bipinnate only, with stipes and main and secondary rhachises exceedingly hairy with long patent jointed hairs,—quite a miniature of the large fronds of the parent plant. Some of the smaller shoots like big buds, apparently just bursting, possess most delicately fine, long, and soft hairs, almost curly, coloured and jointed like those of parent plant.

This species of Dicksonia, in general appearance, somewhat resembles D. squarrosa, but wants the black trunk and stipes, the harsh and dry pointed and mucronate coriaceous foliage, and black hairs and bristles of that species, as well as the persistent hanging of its old withered fronds around its trunk, which is almost characteristic,—besides the much smaller fronds and small round sori, and the peculiar habit of bearing shoots and buds on the trunk of this species. It has the slenderest trunk, as well as the most airy and light appearance in its crown of fronds, of all the New Zealand Dicksoniœ known to me. [308]

Hab. In low-lying forests between Norsewood and Danneverke, “Seventy-mile Bush,” April, 1882.

III. Hymenophyllum, Smith.

Hymenophyllum megalocarpum,812 n. sp.

Plant terrestrial and epiphytical, sarmentose; rhizome glabrous; roots and rootlets densely villous with long red-brown spreading hairs.

Stipes, ½–2½ inches apart on rhizome, 2–4 inches long, generally much shorter than the frond, cylindrical, glabrous, glossy, stout, wiry, flexuose, red-brown, sometimes greenish.

Frond, tri-quadri-pinnatifid, deltoid or deltoid-acuminate, 3–4½ in. long, 3–4½ inches broad at base, sometimes slightly acuminate, upright or slightly decurved, spreading, membranous, semi-pellucid, light-green, glabrous, not shining, not elastic; pinnœ and pinnules crowded, imbricate; main rhachis and secondary rhachises red coloured, winged throughout; wings crisped; very young fronds slightly scaly below with red-brown wrinkled deciduous scales on stipes and rhachis; primary pinnules opposite, falcate, lowermost pair deflexed; secondary pinnules sub-opposite and alternate, sub-secund, falcate, cuneate below, very thickly set, overlapping, outermost free.

Segments, or lobes, regular, narrow, linear, 1–3 lines long, width under ½ line, obtuse, entire, plane, terminal sometimes forked, very rarely elongate; veins prominent.

Involucres on lateral segments, very large, much wider than segments, –⅛ inch wide at widest part, divided down to base, turgid, open, spreading and recurved, obconical, semi-elliptic, deltoid, and suborbicular, sometimes twice the size of the clusters of sori, entire, emarginate, sometimes slightly crenulate at apex, often geminate, sometimes two from one vein, and sometimes even three together.

Sori in large rotund clusters and coloured red, prominent, exserted, sometimes two clusters within one involucre; capsules very large, convex, glossy.

This species of Hymenophyllum is (as I take it) a striking and interesting novelty; owing to its large clusters of richly-coloured sori, and their still larger and spreading involucres or involucral leaves,—in their manner of growth almost resembling those of a small cabbage or lettuce around its heart,—and also with (in some places) its twin clusters of sori within one involucre, and arising from a single vein. I know of nothing like it among our many and varied species of Hymenophyllum; although this species is not so large as several of the New Zealand species of this genus, its clusters of sori and involucres are the largest that I know,—larger than those of H. scabrum and H. dilatatum. Its affinities, however, (though slight), are with the old well-known and [309] common species H. demissum and H. polyanthos, and with the new one H. erecto-alatum, particularly this last, and had its stipes been winged, and the wings there and on its rhachises subvertical and deeply crisped, as in H. erecto-alatum, I should have been inclined to have set it down as a variety of that species, notwithstanding its extra-large and peculiar involucres and sori. Apparently the smaller the frond the more profuse its sori, which in some small specimens is densely thick and heavy, and then contracting the whole frond. Its clusters of sori are also coloured bright-red when very young, long before they become mature.

Hab. In open woods, in the Seventy-mile Bush between Norsewood and Danneverke, both on the ground (but not growing thickly) and climbing trees—particularly the trunks of the tree-ferns, arborescent Dicksoniœ—1881, 1882.

IV. Asplenium Linn

Asplenium anomodum,813 n. sp.

Plant small, suberect, spreading; caudex very short and stout, scarcely any; stipites thickly tufted, 1–2½ inches long, rather slender, green, densely clothed at base with very large reticulated glossy black scales; roots fibrous, not long, compact, numerous, brown, thickly covered with short shining hairs; fronds, 4–6 (living ones) to each plant, 2–4½ inches long, 1½ inches broad, ovate-acuminate, pinnate, with a long terminal obtuse pinna subrhomboid-lanceolate, about 2 inches long or twice the length of the largest of the lateral pinnæ, with sometimes a small lobe at the base; pinnœ, 3–4 pairs, petiolate, distant, patent, alternate, rarely subopposite, 6–14 lines long, 3–6 lines broad, ovate, sometimes broadly elliptic, dimidiate, obtuse and rounded at apex, generally decreasing in size from the middle of the frond downwards; the base cuneate and excised below, and truncate and subauricled above; colour grass green, a shade lighter below; margins cartilaginous, coloured, aud bluntly serrated, often only crenulate; petioles slender; texture membranaceous, glabrous above, scaly below on the veins with scattered long fine dark and scarious scales, having divaricating laciniæ at base (almost stellate), similar in texture to those at base of stipites, only very much smaller; veins apparent, subflabellate, simple, and forked, with no distinct costa, subclavate at apices and not extending to margin; rhachis slender, narrow, channelled above, and (with stipe) scaly, with long twisted dark scarious scales like those on veins of frond.

Sori generally few, distant, scattered, and very irregularly distributed, 1, 2, or 3 (and sometimes, though rarely, 5, 6) on a pinna, occasionally more, 8–18, on the terminal pinna; at first long, afterwards broad-elliptic, [310] thick and very prominent, and sometimes confluent, distant from both midrib and margin, but more so from the margin; involucre linear-oblong, whitish, very membranous and semi-pellucid; edge slightly erose.

Scales at base, black, glossy, deltoid-ovate very acuminate, 8 lines long, 1½ lines broad at base, reticulations large, subsphagnoid parallelogrammic, very conspicuous; margins entire and sparsely and irregularly fringed.

Hab. On decomposing limestone ridges, forests near Norsewood, W.C.; at Takapau, Mr. J. Stewart; and at Te Aute, Mr. C. P. Winkelmann.

This plant has some natural affinity with two of our well-known New Zealand species—A. obtusatum and A. hookerianum—although it widely differs from both in appearance; those two ferns also belonging to two very different sections of the genus. Were some of the characters of this fern not so discordant with those of either of the two aforementioned species, I should have classed it as a variety of one of them. It seems, however, to partake in several points of both those species, and may yet prove to be a step towards uniting them in a regular natural sequence.

It differs from A. obtusatum in the form of its pinnæ, especially the terminal one, in their texture and in that of the stipes rhachis and petioles, in colour, in venation, and in the form of its sori and scales. It is more nearly allied to A. hookerianum, in the texture of its frond and its venation, in the slenderness of its stipe rhachis and petioles, in the disposition of its lateral pinnæ, in its colour, and in its large (often solitary) sori, and scales; but differs in being only once-pinnate, with larger entire and simple regular pinnæ on shorter petioles, its very large terminal pinna, and thick stout tufted head or caudex. It has scarcely any natural affinity with another small New Zealand pinnate species or variety, A. paucifolium, Hook., (a plant I formerly obtained from those same localities), which is, I believe, a dwarf variety of A. lucidum. Its peculiar and beautiful large basal scales approach very near to those of A. paleaceum, Br., from Queensland, and to those of A. sandersoni, Hook., from Natal. The scales of this plant are truly wonderful objects under a microscope.

It is only after an extra large amount of study, examination, and research, that I have concluded to advance another new species of Asplenium; and I confess I should not have done so, had I not fortunately obtained an unusually large number of good specimens—not merely of single fronds but of entire plants—and their uniformity is great.


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